The 2 Most Important Words In Successful Negotiations

Any negotiation, at home or at work, can become a battle. Even the word ‘negotiation’ sounds daunting and implies there will be a loser and a winner.

First we need to change our paradigm to more of “need sharing” and “people agreement.” The word ‘negotiation’ sounds too issue and task-based, and not human enough. Remember, all negotiations are a simple balance of tasks (the what) and relationships (the who). If we try to conquer someone or always concede to others, someone will feel bad and lose. Collaboration rules! Put what is best for both you and them into the discussion to create real balance in accomplishing tasks and honoring the relationship, and amazing agreements can be achieved.

Our language shapes our thinking before and during any negotiated outcome. Here are the 2 words most helpful in any negotiation/people agreement situation.

1. Maybe – What got us our success so far has been urgency – getting things done and not wasting time. And when a customer, spouse, or other interested party asks for something that is easy and we can handle quickly, we say – “sure, yes, or no problem.” When another person asks for something they may want and we tend to give in too fast.  This gives away our power. When we are asked for something and instead we lean in, saying “maybe” or “it depends,” we get an opportunity to learn. We slow down, check our understanding of their need, or their motivation behind asking for something. Even if we know the answer, it is so important to hear it in their words. Secondly, when we say “maybe” it gives us pause to consider how our wants could be achieved by giving them their wants. That sense of reciprocity gives everyone an understanding that we are partnering, sharing, and not taking advantage of each other. In negotiations, we all need to feel that we are being treated fairly and that the goal is better achieved through stating “maybe” than “sure you can have it.”

2.  What if – when we offer a possible resolution, particularly if a price or terms are involved, it’s important for the other party to truly consider our suggestion, as an alternative option or possibility. If we simply say “let’s do this” we are rushing the process, just like we have always done. Urgency has often led to our success so far. As we face more important relationships and tasks, we need to slow down and be the thinker not the doer. Too much doing leads us to rush and settle. Great outcomes are achieved through great thinking.

If we say ” let’s do this” it may say to the other person, we are trying to take control, which is not good. It doesn’t allow the other person to be empowered in finding a better solution. They also may take part of what you said, like a price discount for larger order or bundle of multiple products, and say they will take that lower price without your requirements. We call that “cherry-picking.” So, if they try to cherry-pick, you can say, “That was only a ‘what if’  and we should keep searching for better options to further meet both our needs.” Keep the people agreement plan going, or they may take advantage of your offer.

So tackling tricky obstacles through rehearsing our language for proper dialogue is paramount to need resolution for everyone.

What’s in your wallet?


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